Born in Kansas City, Missouri, Ken White (American, 1935–1985) graduated from Kansas City Art Institute and School of Design in 1960. Following four years working at Meredith Publishing, he pursued an MFA at Yale University studying under some of the leading modernist graphic designers of the twentieth-century: Alvin Eisenman, Herbert Matter, Bradbury Thompson, and Paul Rand. While Rand was known by students and colleagues as being a particularly demanding critic, he became one of White’s key mentors in design, ultimately recommending him for a job at IBM upon his graduation in 1967. As one of the first designers within the IBM Boulder Design Center, White immediately established himself as an effective corporate leader and manager, even hiring back his former colleague John Anderson.
Known for the thoughtful humor in his work, and for striving to advance the visibility and excellence of IBM’s visual communications programs, White was promoted to lead IBM’s new Design Center in Tucson, Arizona in 1977. Following his fourteen-year career at IBM, he worked as director of design at International Telephone & Telegraph (ITT), and was associate professor at Arizona State University prior to his death in 1985.
Growing up in southern Minnesota, John Anderson (American, 1925–2017) graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in commercial art. After initially working in the Minneapolis area, he was hired as art director for Meredith Publishing in Des Moines, Iowa designing magazine layouts for Better Homes and Gardens. In 1960, he hired Ken White, a young, talented graphic designer, to join his creative staff. During these years at Meredith, Anderson and White frequently discussed the disciplinary and practical distinctions between commercial art and design. In 1968, when White asked Anderson to rejoin him at IBM, they would implement projects to explore and reconcile these concepts.
is about three things:
Learning to look,
Learning to see,
Learning to understand.
Tom Bluhm (American, 1943–) was born in Rochester, Minnesota, and first joined IBM as a technical illustrator prior to his formal training in design. In 1974, Ken White hired Bluhm as a graphic designer to join the team in Boulder. Known for his artistic craft, and propensity for life-long learning, Bluhm studied printmaking, art history, and geology at the University of Colorado, earning his degree while working at IBM. In 1985, he left the United States to study at the Basel School of Design under acclaimed International Typographic Style proponents Armin Hofman and Wolfgang Weingart. Upon completing his advanced degree, he rejoined IBM as Program Manager of Graphic Design Operations in 1990, where he became the chief liaison between IBM management and Paul Rand. From 1993-1996, Bluhm served as chair of communication design at Art Center-Europe, and later as an art history professor at Surval International in Montreux. Today, he lives and paints in his studio based in Vernamiège, Switzerland.